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The Big O

The Big O

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is a Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese animated
Anime
is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

 television series created by director Kazuyoshi Katayama and designer Keiichi Sato
Keiichi Sato
is a mecha and character designer born in the Kagawa Prefecture of Japan in 1965.In 1996, Sato met with Kazuyoshi Katayama to begin work on The Big O. Until then, Sato's work consisted mainly of designing characters and supervising animation for anime series. The Big O is the first based on a...

 for Sunrise Studios. The writing staff was assembled by the series' head writer, Chiaki J. Konaka
Chiaki J. Konaka
, born April 4, 1961) is a Japanese writer and scenarist best known for Serial Experiments Lain, and later for the Digimon season, Digimon Tamers....

.

The story takes place forty years after a mysterious occurrence causes the residents of Paradigm City to lose their memories. The series follows Roger Smith, Paradigm City's top Negotiator. He provides this much needed service with the help of a Gynoid named R. Dorothy Wayneright and his butler
Butler
A butler is a domestic worker in a large household. In great houses, the household is sometimes divided into departments with the butler in charge of the dining room, wine cellar, and pantry. Some also have charge of the entire parlour floor, and housekeepers caring for the entire house and its...

 Norman Burg. When the need arises, Roger calls upon Big O, a giant relic from the city's past.

The television series is designed as a tribute to Japanese and Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 shows from the 1960s and 1970s. The series is done in the style of film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

 and combines the feel of a detective show
Detective fiction
Detective fiction is a sub-genre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an investigator , either professional or amateur, investigates a crime, often murder.-In ancient literature:...

 with the mecha genre
Mecha anime
Mecha anime cover all series that revolve around the use of piloted robotic armors in battle, which is broken down into two subcategories of Super Robot and Real Robot. Mecha series cover a wide variety of genres from comedy to drama, though are always fantastical and larger-than-life in nature and...

 of anime. The setpiece
Setpiece
In film production, a setpiece is a scene or sequence of scenes the execution of which requires serious logistical planning and considerable expenditure of money. The term setpiece is often used more broadly to describe any important dramatic or comedic highpoint in a film or story, particularly...

s are reminiscent of Toho
Toho
is a Japanese film, theater production, and distribution company. It is headquartered in Yūrakuchō, Chiyoda, Tokyo, and is one of the core companies of the Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group...

 monster movies
Kaiju
is a Japanese word that means "strange beast," but often translated in English as "monster". Specifically, it is used to refer to a genre of tokusatsu entertainment....

 and the score is an eclectic mix of styles and musical homages.

The Big O premiered 13 October 1999 on WOWOW
WOWOW
WOWOW was the first private satellite broadcasting and pay TV station in Japan. It has its headquarters on the 21st floor of the Akasaka Park Building in Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo...

 satellite television. It finished its run on 19 January 2000. The English language version premiered on Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network (United States)
Cartoon Network is an American cable television network owned by Turner Broadcasting which primarily airs animated programming. The channel was launched on October 1, 1992 after Turner purchased the animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1991...

 on 2 April 2001. Originally a 13-episode series, positive fan response internationally resulted in a second season co-produced by Cartoon Network, Sunrise, and Bandai Visual
Bandai Visual
, is a Japanese anime, film production and distribution enterprise, established by Bandai Co., Ltd. and a subsidiary of Namco Bandai Holdings, Inc., which is based in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. Since the reorganisation of Namco Bandai Holdings in 2006, Bandai Visual now heads the group's Visual and...

. Season two premiered on Japan's SUN-TV
SUN-TV
is a commercial television station headquartered in Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, and a member of the Japanese Association of Independent Television Stations .-Office:...

 on January 2003, with the American premiere
Premiere
A premiere is generally "a first performance". This can refer to plays, films, television programs, operas, symphonies, ballets and so on. Premieres for theatrical, musical and other cultural presentations can become extravagant affairs, attracting large numbers of socialites and much media...

 taking place seven months later.

Plot



Forty years prior to the events of the series, disaster struck. The world was turned into a vast desert wasteland and the survivors were left without memories. The story takes place in Paradigm City, a corporate police state run by the Paradigm Corporation. The town is recognized for its geodesic dome
Geodesic dome
A geodesic dome is a spherical or partial-spherical shell structure or lattice shell based on a network of great circles on the surface of a sphere. The geodesics intersect to form triangular elements that have local triangular rigidity and also distribute the stress across the structure. When...

s, giant structures that house the richer citizens and segregate the poor.

The Big O deals with the nature of memories. A memory
Memory
In psychology, memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and recall information and experiences. Traditional studies of memory began in the fields of philosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing memory....

 is a record stored in the brain of an organism, but in Paradigm City memories can mean much more. embody the lost knowledge of its residents, and can take the form of records from before the Event, forgotten artifacts from the previous era or manifest themselves as recollection, hallucination
Hallucination
A hallucination, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid,...

s and recurring dream
Recurring dream
A recurring dream is a dream which is experienced repeatedly over a long period.A person who experiences post-traumatic stress disorder may have recurring dreams about the traumatic event....

s.

The first half of the series is episodic. Each Act revolves around different citizens of Paradigm dealing with the resurgence of lost Memories and how they manage to go on living without knowledge of what did or did not happen. The final episodes introduce elements that come into play during season two like the existence of people outside of Paradigm City, the nature of the Cataclysm that destroyed the world and the "Power of God wielded by the hand of man."

The second season takes an arc-based approach
Story arc
A story arc is an extended or continuing storyline in episodic storytelling media such as television, comic books, comic strips, boardgames, video games, and in some cases, films. On a television program, for example, the story would unfold over many episodes. In television, the use of the story...

. Instead of self-contained stories like in season one, season two features a continuous storyline. The second season makes Alex Rosewater, CEO of the Paradigm Corporation, a direct antagonist
Antagonist
An antagonist is a character, group of characters, or institution, that represents the opposition against which the protagonist must contend...

 to The Negotiator and introduces The Union, agents of a foreign power working within Paradigm.

Ending


The series ends with the awakening of other "Big" megadeus
Megadeus
is the name given to the giant robots of The Big O anime series. Forty years prior to the events of the series, the world was turned into a vast desert wasteland and the survivors were left without memories. The megadeuses are portrayed as remnants of the previous civilization, a lost technology...

 and the revelation that the universe is a simulated reality
Simulated reality
Simulated reality is the proposition that reality could be simulated—perhaps by computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from "true" reality. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation....

 created by advanced virtual reality
Virtual reality
Virtual reality , also known as virtuality, is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds...

 technology of unknown origin. A climactic battle ensues, after which the universe is systematically deleted and reset. However, this ending has been thoroughly debated. Many fans feel it was simply symbolism. The true nature of the ending remains unknown and open to interpretation.

Paradigm City



is a fictional city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

 which serves as the main setting of the anime
Anime
is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

 series The Big O. Located on a sea coast and surrounded by a vast desert wasteland, the partially dome
Geodesic dome
A geodesic dome is a spherical or partial-spherical shell structure or lattice shell based on a network of great circles on the surface of a sphere. The geodesics intersect to form triangular elements that have local triangular rigidity and also distribute the stress across the structure. When...

d city is wholly controlled by the monopolistic Paradigm Corporation. Paradigm is known as , as forty years prior to the story, an unknown occurrence known only as takes place which destroys the world outside the city and leaves the survivors without any memories. In the final episodes of the series, the city is implied to have been an elaborate fabrication produced by an unknown power.

The city is characterized by severe class inequity; the higher-income population resides inside the more pleasant geodesic domes, with the remainder left in tenements outside. Androids coexist with the human inhabitants of Paradigm City; while their numbers are fairly low, and they're something of a rarity, there are enough of them that denizens of the city are not shocked by them and don't consider it particularly unusual to encounter one.

Several episodes show inhabitants of Paradigm City practicing some shape or form of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, as people congregate in meeting places with crucifixes prominently displayed. However, the practice appears to be based on custom rather than doctrine, which no one remembers. A cathedral is shown in ruins and forgotten, although some elderly people occasionally feel compelled to stand in front of it and sing scraps of hymns. It is revealed in episode 11 that almost no one remembers Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 and its meaning save for Alex Rosewater.

A holiday is observed on December 25, but as a celebration to commemorate the founding of Paradigm City, known as "Heaven's Day". The inhabitants of the city still put up generic Christmas decorations like decorated Christmas trees and streamers, but they don't really know the underlying reason behind all of this. Alex Rosewater seems to be the series' only character with knowledge of pre-Event Christianity. Dastun at one point mentions that Rosewater had in his possession fragments of a "Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

", although neither Dastun nor Roger had previously heard of it. It is possible that Rosewater also has other fragments of The Bible, as Rosewater describes the real meaning of Heaven's Day as being "the day God's son was born."

Characters



Roger Smith
Roger Smith is the series's protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

. As a Negotiator, his job entails finding a resolution for the troubles of the City of Amnesia. He'd negotiate almost anything for anyone, but he is a professional and expects the parties involved to behave professionally. When memories betray the people and force them to reawaken monstrosities of the city's past, Roger's only option is to fight back with a monstrosity of his own, the black megadeus
Megadeus
is the name given to the giant robots of The Big O anime series. Forty years prior to the events of the series, the world was turned into a vast desert wasteland and the survivors were left without memories. The megadeuses are portrayed as remnants of the previous civilization, a lost technology...

 Big O
Big O (mecha)
is the premier mecha of The Big O anime TV series, a black megadeus piloted by series protagonist Roger Smith. The robot was designed by series creator Keiichi Sato, who also designed the Mazinger mechas featured on the Mazinkaiser OVA and the mutant creatures of The SoulTaker TV series.- Design...

. Roger is voiced by Mitsuru Miyamoto in Japanese and Steven Blum
Steven Blum
Steven Jay Blum is an American voice actor known primarily for his work in anime dubs and video games, using his distinctive deep voice. Among his credits include the voice of Spike Spiegel of the anime series Cowboy Bebop and Mugen of the anime series Samurai Champloo...

 in English.

R. Dorothy Wayneright
R. Dorothy Wayneright is Roger's assistant. Introduced in Act:01 as Dorothy Soldano, daughter of rich industrialist Miguel Soldano, she is later revealed to be a gynoid
Gynoid
A gynoid is anything which resembles or pertains to the female human form. It is also used in American English medical terminology as a shortening of the term Gynecoid ....

 constructed by him. Her actual "father" would be Timothy Wayneright, the man who commissioned her construction and father of the real and late Dorothy Wayneright. To show her gratitude, and as a form of payment for Roger's help, she decides to move in with him and help out Norman with the chores. Dorothy is voiced by Akiko Yajima in Japanese and Lia Sargent
Lia Sargent
Lia Sargent is an American voice actress. She is known for extensive anime and video game voice work and has also done ADR directing and script writing for Animaze.. iNC...

 in English. The character's name is consistent with naming practices in the science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 works of Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

, the first initial "R" standing for "robot
Robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

".

Norman Burg
Norman Burg is Roger's butler
Butler
A butler is a domestic worker in a large household. In great houses, the household is sometimes divided into departments with the butler in charge of the dining room, wine cellar, and pantry. Some also have charge of the entire parlour floor, and housekeepers caring for the entire house and its...

. Forty years before the commencement of the story, Norman, like the rest of Paradigm, lost all memories from before that day, but he would not think twice before going once more unto the breach for his master. Resourceful and talented, he is also caretaker
Property caretaker
A Property caretaker is a person, group or organization that cares for real estate for trade or financial compensation, and sometimes as a barter for rent-free living accommodations...

 of the Big O. Norman's skills give him a purpose and a mission to accomplish for Roger. Norman is voiced by Motomu Kiyokawa in Japanese and Milton James and Alan Oppenheimer in English for seasons one and two respectively.

Dan Dastun
Dan Dastun is the middle-aged Chief of the Military Police, introduced in Act:01. He is Roger's former commander and the Negotiator's contact in the police force. Roger describes him as "a hard-nosed cop [who is] completely devoted to the force" and with "more pride in the Military Police than anything else." Dan is voiced by Tesshou Genda in Japanese and Peter Lurie in English.

Angel
Angel is the beautiful woman Roger encounters throughout the series. Introduced in Act:03 as Casey Jenkins, investigator for Paradigm Power Management, then again in Act:04 as Patricia Lovejoy, secretary for the publisher of Paradigm Press. Angel's true identity is a mystery, her motives questionable and her allegiance to no one but herself. Angel is voiced by Emi Shinohara in Japanese and Wendee Lee
Wendee Lee
Wendee Lee is an American voice actress. While she has done voice work for many video games as well as several episodes in the Power Rangers franchise, she is particularly prolific in the dubbing of anime. As of April 2009, with 223 credits to her name, she has more credits in this medium than any...

 in English.

Production and release


Development of the retro
Retro
Retro is a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall postmodern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. The use of "retro" style iconography and imagery interjected into post-modern art, advertising, mass media, etc...

-styled series began in 1996. Keiichi Sato
Keiichi Sato
is a mecha and character designer born in the Kagawa Prefecture of Japan in 1965.In 1996, Sato met with Kazuyoshi Katayama to begin work on The Big O. Until then, Sato's work consisted mainly of designing characters and supervising animation for anime series. The Big O is the first based on a...

 came up with the concept of The Big O: a giant city-smashing robot, piloted by a man in black, in a Gotham
Gotham City
Gotham City is a fictional U.S. city appearing in DC Comics, best known as the home of Batman. Batman's place of residence was first identified as Gotham City in Batman #4 . Gotham City is strongly inspired by Trenton, Ontario's history, location, atmosphere, and various architectural styles...

-like environment. He later met up with Kazuyoshi Katayama, who had just finished directing Those Who Hunt Elves
Those Who Hunt Elves
is a manga series and an anime television series by Yu Yagami, released in North America on VHS and DVD by ADV Films. The plot revolves around three travellers, the eponymous "Elf Hunters", and the elven sorceress Mistress Celcia.-Plot:...

, and started work on the layouts and character designs. But when things "were about to really start moving," production on Katayama's Sentimental Journey began, putting plans on-hold. Meanwhile, Sato was heavily involved with his work on City Hunter
City Hunter
is a hardboiled manga series written and illustrated by Tsukasa Hojo, published by Shueisha in the Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1985 to 1991. The manga was adapted into an animated television series by Sunrise Studios in 1987...

.

Sato admits it all started as "a gimmick for a toy" but the representatives at Bandai Hobby Division did not see the same potential
Toyetic
Toyetic is the suitability of a media property, such as a movie, for merchandising spin-off lines of licensed toys, games and novelties. For example, Saturday morning cartoons in the early 1980s and 1990s were well known for this, in particular Pound Puppies; My Pet Monster; and Rude Dog and the...

. From there on, the dealings would be with Bandai Visual
Bandai Visual
, is a Japanese anime, film production and distribution enterprise, established by Bandai Co., Ltd. and a subsidiary of Namco Bandai Holdings, Inc., which is based in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. Since the reorganisation of Namco Bandai Holdings in 2006, Bandai Visual now heads the group's Visual and...

, but Sunrise
Sunrise (company)
is a Japanese animation studio and production enterprise. It is a subsidiary of Namco Bandai Holdings. Its former name was Nippon Sunrise, and prior to that, Sunrise Studios...

 still needed some safeguards and requested more robots be designed to increase prospective toy sales. In 1999, with the designs complete, Chiaki J. Konaka
Chiaki J. Konaka
, born April 4, 1961) is a Japanese writer and scenarist best known for Serial Experiments Lain, and later for the Digimon season, Digimon Tamers....

 was brought on as head writer. Among other things, Konaka came up with the idea of "a town without memory" and his writing staff put together the outline for a 26-episodes series.

The Big O premiered on 13 October 1999 on WOWOW
WOWOW
WOWOW was the first private satellite broadcasting and pay TV station in Japan. It has its headquarters on the 21st floor of the Akasaka Park Building in Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo...

. When the production staff was informed the series would be shortened to 13 episodes, the writers decided to end it with a cliffhanger
Cliffhanger
A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction...

, hoping the next 13 episodes would be picked up. In April 2001, The Big O premiered on Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network (United States)
Cartoon Network is an American cable television network owned by Turner Broadcasting which primarily airs animated programming. The channel was launched on October 1, 1992 after Turner purchased the animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1991...

's Toonami
Toonami
Toonami was a registered trademark of Cartoon Network, used initially for action-oriented programming blocks on Cartoon Network television channels worldwide, mostly showing American cartoons and Japanese anime, originating in the United States on March 17, 1997 and ended on September 20, 2008.The...

 lineup.

Second season
The series garnered positive fan response internationally that resulted in a second season co-produced by Cartoon Network, Sunrise, and Bandai Visual. Season two premiered on Japan's SUN-TV
SUN-TV
is a commercial television station headquartered in Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, and a member of the Japanese Association of Independent Television Stations .-Office:...

 on January 2003, with the American premiere taking place seven months later in the Adult Swim
Adult Swim
Adult Swim is an adult-oriented Cable network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network from 9:00 pm until 6:00 am ET/PT in the United States, and broadcasts in countries such as Australia and New Zealand...

 lineup.

The second season was scripted by Chiaki Konaka with input from the American producers. Along with the 13 episodes of season two, Cartoon Network had an option
Option (films)
In the film industry, an option is a contractual agreement between a potential film producer, such as a movie studio, a production company or an individual, and a writer or third party who holds ownership of a screenplay...

 for 26 additional episodes to be written by Konaka, but according to Jason DeMarco, executive producer for season two, the middling ratings and DVD sales in the United States and Japan have made it impossible for further episodes to be produced.

Music


The Big O was scored by Geidai alumnus Toshihiko Sahashi
Toshihiko Sahashi
is an accomplished Japanese composer. He graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1986. Sahashi has composed music for various anime series , video games, movies, dramas, and musicals...

. His composition is richly symphonic and classical
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

, with a number of pieces delving into electronica
Electronica
Electronica includes a wide range of contemporary electronic music designed for a wide range of uses, including foreground listening, some forms of dancing, and background music for other activities; however, unlike electronic dance music, it is not specifically made for dancing...

 and jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

. Chosen because of his "frightening amount of musical knowledge about TV dramas overseas," Sahashi integrates musical homages into the soundtrack. The background music draws from film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

, spy film
Spy film
The spy film genre deals with the subject of fictional espionage, either in a realistic way or as a basis for fantasy . Many novels in the spy fiction genre have been adapted as films, including works by John Buchan, John Le Carré, Ian Fleming and Len Deighton...

s and sci-fi television series like The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series)
The Twilight Zone is an American anthology television series created by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. The series consisted of unrelated episodes depicting paranormal, futuristic, dystopian, or simply disturbing events; each show typically featured a surprising...

. The battle themes are reminiscent of Akira Ifukube
Akira Ifukube
was a Japanese composer of classical music and film scores, perhaps best known for his work on the soundtracks of the Godzilla movies by Toho.-Biography:...

's compositions for the Godzilla
Godzilla
is a daikaijū, a Japanese movie monster, first appearing in Ishirō Honda's 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd. The monster has appeared in numerous other media incarnations including video games,...

 series.

The first opening theme is the Queen
Queen (band)
Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1971, originally consisting of Freddie Mercury , Brian May , John Deacon , and Roger Taylor...

-influenced "Big-O!". Composed, arranged and performed by Rui Nagai, the song resembles the theme
Flash (song)
"Flash" is a song by British rock group Queen. Written by guitarist Brian May, "Flash" is the theme song of the 1980 film Flash Gordon. The soundtrack released to coincide with the film contained only the music composed and performed by Queen....

 to the Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon (film)
Flash Gordon is a 1980 British/American science fiction film, based on the comic strip of the same name created by Alex Raymond. The film was directed by Mike Hodges and produced and presented by Dino De Laurentiis. It stars Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Topol, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton, Brian...

 film. The second opening theme is "Respect," composed by Sahashi. The track is an homage to the music of Gerry Anderson
Gerry Anderson
Gerry Anderson MBE is a British publisher, producer, director and writer, famous for his futuristic television programmes, particularly those involving specially modified marionettes, a process called "Supermarionation"....

's UFO
UFO (TV series)
UFO is a 1970-1971 British television science fiction series about an alien invasion of Earth, created by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson with Reg Hill, and produced by the Andersons and Lew Grade's Century 21 Productions for Grade's ITC Entertainment company.UFO first aired in the UK and Canada...

, composed by Barry Gray
Barry Gray
Barry Gray was a British musician and composer who is best known for his work for Gerry Anderson.-Life:...

. In 2007, Rui Nagai composed "Big-O! Show Must Go On," a 1960s hard rock
Hard rock
Hard rock is a loosely defined genre of rock music which has its earliest roots in mid-1960s garage rock, blues rock and psychedelic rock...

 piece, for Animax
Animax
is a Japanese anime satellite television network, dedicated to broadcasting anime programming. A subsidiary of Japanese media conglomerate Sony, it is headquartered in in Minato, Tokyo, Japan, with its co-founders and shareholders including Sony Pictures Entertainment and the noted anime studios...

's reruns of the show. The closing theme is the slow love ballad "And Forever," written by Chie and composed by Ken Shima. The duet is performed by Robbie Danzie and Naoki Takao.

Along with Sahashi's original compositions, the soundtrack features Chopin's Prelude No. 15 and a jazz saxophone rendition of "Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
"Jingle Bells" is one of the best-known and commonly sung winter songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont and published under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" in the autumn of 1857...

." The complete score was released in two volumes by Victor Entertainment
Victor Entertainment
is a subsidiary of Japan Victor Company that produces and distributes music, movies and other entertainment products such as anime and television shows in Japan. It was formerly known as...

.

Adaptations



The Big O was conceived as a media franchise
Media franchise
A media franchise is an intellectual property involving the characters, setting and trademarks of an original work of media , such as a film, a work of literature, a television program or a video game. Generally, a whole series is made in a particular medium, along with merchandising and endorsements...

. To this effect, Sunrise
Hajime Yatate
is a pseudonym for the collective contributions of the Sunrise animation staff.-Name:"Hajime Yatate" is considered named after a quote of Matsuo Bashō's Oku no Hosomichi:-Credited series:...

 requested a manga be produced along with the animated series. The Big O manga started serialization in Kodansha
Kodansha
, the largest Japanese publisher, produces the manga magazines Nakayoshi, Afternoon, Evening, and Weekly Shonen Magazine, as well as more literary magazines such as Gunzō, Shūkan Gendai, and the Japanese dictionary Nihongo Daijiten. The company has its headquarters in Bunkyō, Tokyo...

's Magazine Z
Magazine Z
was a Japanese seinen mixed-media magazine published by Kodansha, aimed at teenage males and above, but particularly at hardcore anime and manga fans, featuring articles as well as manga tied into popular franchises. Original manga were also featured in the magazine.It was announced in September...

 on July 1999, three months before the anime premiere. Authored by Hitoshi Ariga, the manga uses Keiichi Sato's concept designs in an all-new story. The series ended on October 2001. The issues were later collected in six volumes
Tankobon
, with a literal meaning close to "independently appearing book", is the Japanese term for a book that is complete in itself and is not part of a series , though the manga industry uses it for volumes which may be in a series...

. The English version of the manga is published by Viz Media
VIZ Media
VIZ Media, LLC, headquartered in San Francisco, is an anime, manga, and Japanese entertainment company. It was founded in 1986 as VIZ LLC. In 2005, VIZ LLC and ShoPro Entertainment merged to form the current VIZ Media LLC, which is jointly owned by Japanese publishers Shogakukan and Shueisha, and...

.

In anticipation to the broadcast of the second season, a new manga series was published. , authored by Hitoshi Ariga. Lost Memory takes place between volumes five and six of the original manga. The issues were serialized in Magazine Z from November 2002 to September 2003 and were collected in two volumes.

, a novel by Yuki Taniguchi, was released 16 July 2003 by Tokuma Shoten
Tokuma Shoten
is a publisher in Japan, that was established in 1954.The company was also the parent company for the film studio Daiei Motion Pictures, bought in 1974, and the record label Tokuma Japan Communications, bought in 1972, until both were sold off when Yasuyoshi Tokuma, who established this company,...

.

Design


The Big O is the brainchild of Keiichi Sato and Kazuyoshi Katayama, an homage
Homage
Homage is a show or demonstration of respect or dedication to someone or something, sometimes by simple declaration but often by some more oblique reference, artistic or poetic....

 to the shows they grew up with. The show references the works of Gerry Anderson
Gerry Anderson
Gerry Anderson MBE is a British publisher, producer, director and writer, famous for his futuristic television programmes, particularly those involving specially modified marionettes, a process called "Supermarionation"....

 and ITC Entertainment
ITC Entertainment
The Incorporated Television Company was a British television company largely involved in production and distribution. It was founded by Lew Grade.-History:...

, the superhero shows
Toei Superheroes
Toei Superheroes are superhero shows produced by Toei Company Ltd., which has done the biggest number of live-action tokusatsu superhero shows in Japan...

 produced by the Toei Company
Toei Company
is a Japanese film, television production, and distribution corporation. Based in Tokyo, Toei owns and operates thirty-four movie theaters across Japan, a modest vertically-integrated studio system by the standards of the 1930s United States; operates studios at Tokyo and Kyoto; and is a...

 and "old school" super robot
Super Robot
is a term used in manga and anime to describe a giant robot or mecha, with an arsenal of fantastic super-powered weapons, extreme resistance to damage unless the plot calls for it, sometimes transformable or combined from two or more robots and/or vehicles usually piloted by young, daring heroes,...

s. The series is done in the style of film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

 and pulp fiction
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

 and combines the feel of a detective show with the giant robot
Mecha anime
Mecha anime cover all series that revolve around the use of piloted robotic armors in battle, which is broken down into two subcategories of Super Robot and Real Robot. Mecha series cover a wide variety of genres from comedy to drama, though are always fantastical and larger-than-life in nature and...

 genre.

Style


Film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

 is a stylistic approach to genre films forged in Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

-era detective and gangster films and hard-boiled detective stories which were a staple of pulp fiction
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

. The Big O shares much of its themes, diction, archetypes and visual iconography with film noirs of the 1940s like The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep (1946 film)
The Big Sleep is a 1946 film noir directed by Howard Hawks, the first film version of Raymond Chandler's 1939 novel of the same name. The movie stars Humphrey Bogart as detective Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as the female lead in a film about the "process of a criminal investigation, not its...

 (1946).


Low-key lighting
Low-key lighting
Low-key lighting is a style of lighting for photography, film or television. It is a necessary element in creating a chiaroscuro effect. Traditional photographic lighting, three-point lighting uses a key light, a fill light, and a back light for illumination...

 schemes mark most noirs. The series incorporates the use of long dark shadows in the tradition of chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro in art is "an Italian term which literally means 'light-dark'. In paintings the description refers to clear tonal contrasts which are often used to suggest the volume and modelling of the subjects depicted"....

 and tenebrism
Tenebrism
Tenebrism, from the Italian tenebroso , is a style of painting using very pronounced chiaroscuro, where there are violent contrasts of light and dark, and darkness becomes a dominating feature of the image...

. Film noir is also known for its use of odd angles, such as Roger's low shot
Low-angle shot
In cinematography, a low-angle shot, is a shot from a camera positioned low on the vertical axis, anywhere below the eyeline, looking up.-Famous examples:...

 introduction in the first episode. Noir cinematographers favoured this angle because it made characters almost rise from the ground, giving them dramatic girth and symbolic overtones. Other disorientating devices like dutch angle
Dutch angle
Dutch tilt, Dutch angle, Dutch shot, oblique angle, German angle, canted angle, Batman angle, or jaunty angle are terms used for one of many cinematic techniques often used to portray the psychological uneasiness or tension in the subject being filmed...

s, mirror reflection and distorting shots are employed throughout the series.

The characters of The Big O fit the noir and pulp fiction archetype
Archetype
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated...

s. Roger Smith is a protagonist in the mold of Chandler
Raymond Chandler
Raymond Thornton Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter.In 1932, at age forty-five, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in...

's Philip Marlowe
Philip Marlowe
Philip Marlowe is a fictional character created by Raymond Chandler in a series of novels including The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. Marlowe first appeared under that name in The Big Sleep published in 1939...

 or Hammett
Dashiell Hammett
Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade , Nick and Nora Charles , and the Continental Op .In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on...

's Sam Spade
Sam Spade
Sam Spade is a fictional character who is the protagonist of Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon and the various films and adaptations based on it, as well as in three lesser known short stories by Hammett....

. He is canny and cynical, a disillusioned cop-turned-negotiator whose job has more in common with detective-style work than negotiating. Big Ear is Roger's street informant and Dan Dastun is the friend on the police force. The recurring Beck is the imaginative thug compelled by delusions of grandeur while Angel fills the role of the femme fatale
Femme fatale
A femme fatale is a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She is an archetype of literature and art...

. Minor characters include crooked cops, corrupt business men and deranged scientists.

Noir characters often wisecrack and speak in double entendre
Double entendre
A double entendre or adianoeta is a figure of speech in which a spoken phrase is devised to be understood in either of two ways. Often the first meaning is straightforward, while the second meaning is less so: often risqué or ironic....

s. The dialogue in the series is recognized for its witty, wry sense of humor. The characters come off as charming and exchange banter not often heard in anime series, as the dialogue has the tendency to be straightforward. The plot is moved along by Roger's voice-over
Voice-over
Voice-over is a production technique where a voice which is not part of the narrative is used in a radio, television production, filmmaking, theatre, or other presentations...

 narration
First-person narrative
First-person point of view is a narrative mode where a story is narrated by one character at a time, speaking for and about themselves. First-person narrative may be singular, plural or multiple as well as being an authoritative, reliable or deceptive "voice" and represents point of view in the...

, a device used in film noir to place the viewer in the mind of the protagonist so it can intimately experience the character's angst and partly identify with the narrator.

The urban landscape, Paradigm City, is the perfect noir milieu. The tall buildings and giant domes create a sense of claustrophobia
Claustrophobia
Claustrophobia is the fear of having no escape and being closed in small spaces or rooms...

 and paranoia
Paranoia
Paranoia [] is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself...

 characteristic of the style. The rural landscape, Ailesberry Farm, contrasts Paradigm City. Noir protagonists often look for sanctuary in such settings but, as seen in Act:23, they just as likely end up becoming a killing ground. The series score is representative of its setting. While no classic noir possesses a jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 score, the music could be heard in nightclubs within the films. The recurring
Leitmotif
A leitmotif , sometimes written leit-motif, is a musical term , referring to a recurring theme, associated with a particular person, place, or idea. It is closely related to the musical idea of idée fixe...

 , a lone saxophone accompaniment to the protagonist's narration, best exemplifies the noir stylings of the series.

Amnesia
Amnesia
Amnesia is a condition in which one's memory is lost. The causes of amnesia have traditionally been divided into categories. Memory appears to be stored in several parts of the limbic system of the brain, and any condition that interferes with the function of this system can cause amnesia...

 is a common plot device
Plot device
A plot device is an object or character in a story whose sole purpose is to advance the plot of the story, or alternatively to overcome some difficulty in the plot....

 in film noir. Because most of these stories focused on a character proving his innocence, authors up the ante by making him an amnesiac, unable to prove his innocence even to himself. The Big O goes further, by removing the memories of the whole population. The convoluted past is told through the use of flashback
Flashback (narrative)
Flashback is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story’s primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial backstory...

s. In most noirs, the past is tangible and menacing. The characters are often trying to escape some trauma or crime tied to the Event, and confronting it becomes their only chance at redemption.

Influences


Before The Big O, Sunrise Studios was a subcontractor for Warner Bros. Animation
Warner Bros. Animation
Warner Bros. Animation is the animation division of Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Time Warner. The studio is closely associated with the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters, among others. The studio is the successor to Warner Bros...

's Batman: The Animated Series
Batman: The Animated Series
Batman: The Animated Series is an American animated series based on the DC Comics character Batman. The series featured an ensemble cast of many voice-actors including Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Arleen Sorkin, and Loren Lester. The series won four Emmy Awards and was nominated...

, one of the series' influences.

Roger Smith is a pastiche
Pastiche
A pastiche is a literary or other artistic genre or technique that is a "hodge-podge" or imitation. The word is also a linguistic term used to describe an early stage in the development of a pidgin language.-Hodge-podge:...

 of the Bruce Wayne persona
Persona
A persona, in the word's everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. The word is derived from Latin, where it originally referred to a theatrical mask. The Latin word probably derived from the Etruscan word "phersu", with the same meaning, and that from the Greek πρόσωπον...

 and the Batman. The character design resembles Wayne, complete with slicked-back hair and double-breasted business suit. Like Bruce, Roger prides himself in being a rich playboy to the extent that one of his household's rules is only women may be let into his mansion without his permission. Like Batman, Roger Smith carries a no-gun policy, albeit more flexible. Unlike the personal motives of the Batman, Roger enforces this rule for "it's all part of being a gentleman." Among Roger's gadgetry is the Griffon, a large, black hi-tech sedan comparable to the Batmobile
Batmobile
The Batmobile is the automobile of DC Comics superhero Batman. The car has evolved along with the character from comic books to television and films. Kept in the Batcave, which it accesses through a hidden entrance, the Batmobile is a gadget-laden vehicle used by Batman in his crime-fighting...

, a grappling cable that shoots out his wristwatch and the giant robot that Angel calls "Roger's alter ego
Alter ego
An alter ego is a second self, which is believe to be distinct from a person's normal or original personality. The term was coined in the early nineteenth century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists...

."

The Big Os cast of supporting character
Supporting character
A supporting character is a character of a book, play, video game, movie, television or radio show or other form of storytelling usually used to give added dimension to a main character, by adding a relationship with this character...

s includes Norman, Roger's faithful mechanically-inclined butler who fills the role of Alfred Pennyworth
Alfred Pennyworth
Alfred Pennyworth is a fictional character that appears throughout the DC Comics franchise. The character first appears in Batman #16 , and was created by writer Bob Kane and artist Jerry Robinson. Alfred serves as Batman’s tireless butler, assistant, confidant, and surrogate father figure...

; R. Dorothy Wayneright, who plays the role of the sidekick; and Dan Dastun, a good honest cop who, like Jim Gordon
James Gordon (comics)
James Worthington Gordon, Sr. is a fictional character, an ally of Batman that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane...

, is both a friend to the hero and greatly respected by his comrades.

The other major influence is Mitsuteru Yokoyama
Mitsuteru Yokoyama
was a Japanese manga artist born in Suma-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo. His personal name was originally spelled , with the same pronunciation. His works include Tetsujin 28-go, Giant Robo, Akakage, Babel II, Sally, the Witch, Princess Comet, and adaptations of the Chinese classics Outlaws of the Marsh and...

's Giant Robo
Giant Robo
is an original video animation series written and directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa , and inspired by Mitsuteru Yokoyama's manga series of the same name....

. Before working on The Big O, Kazuyoshi Katayama and other animators worked with Yasuhiro Imagawa
Yasuhiro Imagawa
is a Japanese anime director and screenwriter.-Selected works:*Mister Ajikko *Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still *Gin Rei...

 on Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still. The feature, a "retro
Retro
Retro is a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall postmodern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. The use of "retro" style iconography and imagery interjected into post-modern art, advertising, mass media, etc...

 chic
Chic (style)
Chic , meaning 'stylish' or 'smart', is an element of fashion.-Etymology:Chic is a French word, established in English since at least the 1870s...

" homage to Yokoyama's career, took seven years to produce and suffered low sales and high running costs. Frustrated by the experience, Katayama and his staff put all their efforts into making "good" with The Big O.

Like Giant Robo, the megadeus
Megadeus
is the name given to the giant robots of The Big O anime series. Forty years prior to the events of the series, the world was turned into a vast desert wasteland and the survivors were left without memories. The megadeuses are portrayed as remnants of the previous civilization, a lost technology...

es of Big O are metal behemoths. The designs are strange and "more macho than practical," sporting big stovepipe arms and exposed rivets. Unlike the giants of other mecha series, the megadeuses do not exhibit ninja-like speed nor grace. Instead, the robots are armed with "old school" weaponry such as missile
Missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

s, piston
Piston
A piston is a component of reciprocating engines, reciprocating pumps, gas compressors and pneumatic cylinders, among other similar mechanisms. It is the moving component that is contained by a cylinder and is made gas-tight by piston rings. In an engine, its purpose is to transfer force from...

 powered punches, machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

s and laser
Laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

 cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

s.

Media


Companion book
The Big O Visual: The official companion to the TV series (ISBN 4-575-29579-5) was published by Futabasha in 2003. The book contains full-color artwork, character bios and concept art
Concept art
Concept art is a form of illustration where the main goal is to convey a visual representation of a design, idea, and/or mood for use in films, video games, animation, or comic books before it is put into the final product. Concept art is also referred to as visual development and/or concept design...

, mecha sketches, video/LD/DVD jacket illustrations, history on the making of The Big O, staff interviews, "Roger's Monologues" comic strip and the original script for the final episode of the series.

Audio drama
"Walking Together On The Yellow Brick Road" was released by Victor Entertainment
Victor Entertainment
is a subsidiary of Japan Victor Company that produces and distributes music, movies and other entertainment products such as anime and television shows in Japan. It was formerly known as...

 on 21 September 2000. The drama CD was written by series head writer Chiaki J. Konaka
Chiaki J. Konaka
, born April 4, 1961) is a Japanese writer and scenarist best known for Serial Experiments Lain, and later for the Digimon season, Digimon Tamers....

 and featured the series' voice cast.

Video games
The first season of Big O is featured in Super Robot Wars D for the Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Advance
The is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed, manufactured, and marketed by Nintendo. It is the successor to the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001; in North America on June 11, 2001; in Australia and Europe on June 22, 2001; and in the People's Republic of China...

. The series, including its second season is also featured in Super Robot Wars Z, released in 2008.

Toys and model kits
Bandai
Bandai
is a Japanese toy making and video game company, as well as the producer of a large number of plastic model kits. It is the world's third-largest producer of toys . Some ex-Bandai group companies produce anime and tokusatsu programs...

 released a non-scale model kit of the Big O in 2000. Though it was an easy snap-together kit, it required painting, as all of the parts (except the clear orange crown and canopy) were molded in dark gray. The kit included springs that enabled the slide-action Side Piles on the forearms to simulate the Megadeus' Sudden Impact maneuver. Also included was an unpainted Roger Smith figure.

PVC
Polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

 figures of the Big O and Big Duo (Schwarzwald's Megadeus) were sold by Bandai in North America. Each came with non-poseable figures of Roger, Dorothy and Angel. Mini-figure sets were also offered in Japan, featuring the Big O (standard and attack modes), Roger, Dorothy & Norman, Griffon (Roger's car), Dorothy-1 (Big O's first opponent), Schwarzwald and Big Duo.

In 2009, Bandai released a plastic/diecast figure of the Big O under their Soul of Chogokin line. The figure has the same features as the model kit, but with added detail and accessories. Its design was closely supervised by original designer Keiichi Sato.

Reception


The Big O premiered on 13 October 1999. The show was not a hit in its native Japan, rather it was reduced from an outlined 26 episodes to 13 episodes. Western audiences were more receptive and the series achieved the success its creators were looking for. In an interview with AnimePlay
AnimePlay
Anime Play is a trademark used to refer to the visual novel games distributed by Hirameki International and a magazine profiling these games.-Anime Play DVD:...

, Keiichi Sato said "This is exactly as we had planned", referring to the success overseas.

Several words appear constantly in the English-language reviews; adjectives like "hip", "sleek," "stylish",
"classy", and, above all, "cool" serve to describe the artwork, the concept, and the series itself. Reviewers have pointed out references and homages to various works of fiction, namely Batman
Batman
Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

, Giant Robo
Giant Robo
is an original video animation series written and directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa , and inspired by Mitsuteru Yokoyama's manga series of the same name....

, the works of Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

, Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

's Metropolis
Metropolis (film)
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and...

, James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

, and Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop
is a critically acclaimed and award-winning 1998 Japanese anime series directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, written by Keiko Nobumoto, and produced by Sunrise. Its 26 episodes comprise a complete storyline: set in 2071, the series follows the adventures, misadventures and tragedies of five bounty...

. But "while saying that may cause one to think the show is completely derivative", reads an article at Anime on DVD, "The Big O still manages to stand out as something original amongst the other numerous cookie-cutter anime shows." One reviewer cites the extensive homages as one of the series problems and calls to unoriginality on the creators part.

The first season's reception was positive. Anime on DVD recommends it as an essential series. Chris Beveridge of the aforementioned site gave an A- to Vols. 1 and 2, and a B+ to Vols. 3 and 4. Mike Toole of Anime Jump gave it 4.5 (out of a possible 5) stars, while the review at the Anime Academy gave it a grade of 83, listing the series' high points as being "unique", the characters "interesting," and the action "nice." Reviewers, and fans alike, agree the season's downfall was the ending, or its lack thereof. The dangling plot threads frustrated the viewers and prompted Cartoon Network's involvement in the production of further episodes.

The look and feel of the show received a big enhancement in the second season. This time around, the animation is "near OVA quality" and the artwork "far more lush and detailed." Also enhanced are the troubles of the first season. The giant robot battles still seem out of place to some, while others praise the "over-the-top-ness" of their execution.

For some reviewers, the second season "doesn't quite match the first" addressing to "something" missing in these episodes. Andy Patrizio of IGN
IGN
IGN is an entertainment website that focuses on video games, films, music and other media. IGN's main website comprises several specialty sites or "channels", each occupying a subdomain and covering a specific area of entertainment...

 points out changes in Roger Smith's character, who "lost some of his cool and his very funny side in the second season." Like a repeat of season one, this season's ending is considered its downfall. Chris Beveridge of Anime on DVD wonders if this was head writer "Konaka's attempt to throw his hat into the ring for creating one of the most confusing and oblique endings of any series." Patrizio states "the creators watched The Truman Show
The Truman Show
The Truman Show is a 1998 American satirical comedy-drama film directed by Peter Weir and written by Andrew Niccol. The cast includes Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, as well as Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Ed Harris and Natascha McElhone...

 and The Matrix
The Matrix
The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction-action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving...

a few times too many."